Friday, June 8, 2012

No Way Out?

Over at SBC Today, I put the body of this post in the form of a question to Dr. Jerry Vines, whom I greatly admire as a wonderful man of God and with whom I completely afree on the issue of soteriology. I am posting my remarks here in order to solicit your ideas, opinions, etc., on whether or not Traditonal Baptists and Calvinists can truly cooperate in the SBC.

The differences between Traditional Baptist soteriology and Calvinist soteriology are stark. I don't think I need to discuss those differences in this thread as there are many blog posts that outline said differences.

Our doctrine of salvation will determine how we do missions at home and abroad. Our doctrine of salvation will also determine what kind of churches we will plant with funds provided by faithful baptists in the pew. In essence, our doctrine of salvation is the soul of our convention and has a huge impact on how we serve our Lord.

Foundational doctrinal differences will not allow us to fund Methodist or Presbyterian church plants, so how can we resolve to fund churches which teach doctrine with which the majority of Southern Baptists do not agree?

I understand that tertiary doctrinal issues should be allowed for differences of opinion, however, in my humble opinion, our doctrine of salvation is not a tertiary issue; it is a foundational, principle doctrine of Southern Baptists.

Therefore, I would like to hear your thoughts on how you think we can ever resolve this issue of our differences on the doctrine of salvation. Personally, I do not see any path of resolution because Traditional Baptists will not compromise their position on soteriology nor will Calvinists. What do you think?


John said...

Brother Les,
If you see no resolution to this outcome then would you share what you believe is the inevitable outcome? Thanks

Anonymous said...

"in my humble opinion, our doctrine of salvation is not a tertiary issue; it is a foundational, principle doctrine of Southern Baptists."

Les, Based on what evidence?

I doubt this comment will see the light of day and honestly, I don't care. I have watched your tactics over the last 2 years and it's clear to me, that you would do almost anything to stop the growth of Calvinism and that includes mistating its history.

Les Puryear said...


Good question. I don;t know the answer to this question. That is why I am asking it.

What do you think?


Les Puryear said...


I've been blogging for 6 years and you've only been reading me for 2 years? Shame on you!

All kidding aside, I believe you have misread the sentence or perhaps I have written it poorly.

What I was TRYING to say was the doctrine of salvation is a foundational issue that needs to be agreed upon by all Southern Baptists. Some will say that other doctrines such as tongues, etc., are tertiary and we can agree to disagree. However, on a foundational doctrine such as salvation we need to come to some agreement on what we as Southern Baptists believe. That was my point.


Jeph said...


Why do you think the Convention should stop funding Calvinist church planting missions just because they don't hold to the soteriological position held by the majority of Southern Baptists? I think that's already hitting below the belt, Les.

If you don't know yet, Calvinism is the theological position to which the SBC was born; a fact that is backed up with overwhelming historical evidences. The very first SBC president, William Bullein Johnson, was himself a staunch Calvinist. Key figures in the formation of the SBC such as J.L Dagg, J.P Boyce, Basil Manly, and B.H Carol, all professed and taught Calvinism. Are you saying that the soteriological position of these people is out the bounds of the theological fence of the SBC? If these people were alive today and were on missions, would you also deny them of financial support from the Convention?

I've read one of your articles where you gave a warning to churches to not hire a Calvinist pastor. So if our founding fathers were alive today, should you also call for Southern Baptist churches to avoid and drive these godly people away from their churches?


Les Puryear said...

Brother Jeph,

I didn't know until I looked at your profile that you were Filipino. I have a great love for Filipinos. One of daughters-in-law is Filipino and two of my granddaughters are half-Filipino. In 2009 I had the opportunity to go to Mendinao and preach for 2 weeks in churches in Davao City and at the Baptist camp outside of Davao City. I pray that God will bless His work through you as you seek to find your place of service.

As a blogger since 2006, we have had these discussions over and over for the last 6 years. We never get anywhere and no compromise is ever made.

A couple of years ago we had a conference at Ridgecrest where Calvinists and Traditional Baptists could dialogue about our differences in an irenic manner. Nothing came of this effort except for a book which consisted of the speaker's sermons.

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for 15 years and a Southern Baptist for more than 50 years. For a few years as a pastor, I too fell under the spell of Piper, Spurgeon, Sproul, etc. However, praise God, I finally saw the problems with Calvinism and Calvinists and came to my senses. I won't recount the whole story here as I have written about it in previous posts.

Here's a few of the problems I see with Calvinism in the SBC: 1) Calvinist pastors are hiding their Calvinism from Traditional Baptist churches in order to get hired. Once they get hired, they try to "reform" the church to Calvinism and the end result is either a split church or a wounded congregation from battling the insurgent Calvinists. I have seen this play out time and time again in the USA. I even have a recent blog post about it if youru care to read it. 2) Calvinists are the minority in the SBC. The vast majority of churches in the SBC are small churches (83% les than 200) and they are Traditional Baptists, not Calvinists. Our soteriology is so different that it affects ecclesiology as well.

Since the majority of Southern Baptists are Traditional Baptists and disagree theologically with Calvinism, why should we fund Calvinist church plants?

Finally, Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries has stated that it is his intention to reform SBC churches into Calvinist churches. We believe this is an assault on our local churches who have no idea what Calvinism is and how it will hurt them. Thus, it is up to Traditional Baptist leaders to inform our churches about the differences between Calvinist belief and Traditional Baptist belief.

I know that none of what I have written will satisfy you in any way. My experience with Calvinists is that unless one becomes a Calvinist no argument against it will ever be acceptable.

We will protect our churches from what we see as dangerous theology, i.e. Calvinism. If you want to start Calvinist churches, by all means please do so. But it won't be with funding from my local church.